We munched very happily through the salad of roasted beetroot and cherry tomatoes, with a dangerously generous slab of grilled goat’s cheese, a light smattering of hazelnuts and a sweet balsamic reduction, and the grilled Cornish mackerel with crunchy fennel, orange and potato salad. Both starters looked lovely and tasted great; light (okay, apart from the cheese), delicious and interesting. Our main courses were the 28 day dry aged Aberdeenshire rump steak with pepper sauce and fat chips, and the sea bass with saffron dauphinoise, sauté of bean shoots and mushrooms, and balsamic jus. The steak was great, and the pepper sauce had a marvellous elusive flavour, which is of course the only reason I kept eating it when it wasn’t on my plate. The chips were a little bit unusual – perhaps they’d been particularly well shaken before frying to make them lighter, and I’m still reserving judgement on whether this was a good thing, or if I’d have preferred a familiar stodginess. The sea bass was cooked with appropriate restraint, and the waxy, mildly garlicky potatoes hit the spot. Pudding was a delicious but overwhelmingly sweet sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream, tasting, as it ought, like it might have come from a tin in my Yorkshire granny’s cupboard, which is very wrong and very nice - and an exquisite chocolate, orange + praline mousse with blackcurrant sorbet, sweet and sharp. We both really enjoyed but quickly struggled with these luxurious offerings, but a mid-way swap solved the problem and ensured that we wouldn’t need to eat for the next couple of days. Came in at just over £80 including wine and coffee, but before service.
This is a delightful place, the food is decent, the wine list interesting, the people nice, and the complimentary stuff in the women’s loos beyond the call of duty. Although this is not a judgement that should be made with any finality on single visit, I did find the atmosphere slightly subdued, with an uneasy mix of convivial baby-boomers and flash thirty-somethings looking a bit lost on a slightly quiet Friday night, and the waitresses were lovely, and competent, but seemed a bit timid. Likely this would all be corrected with a fuller house and a bit more bustle, which might also, from my point of view, slow down the rather speedy service and leave a little more time to digest and enjoy what is really a lovely location. There is only one way to ensure this, and we’ll be doing our bit by going back soon.